As media consumption continues to move the direction of the smart, connected, handheld device, companies need to continue to adapt. Or of course just launch new companies. Such is the case with Nashville startup TalkApolis. The Nashville startup is headed by John Bransford
“You can watch locally focused, entertaining, high quality video shows on your smartphone or mobile device that were made to be watched on it. Download our app for your device and watch TalkApolis content with a touch of your screen” Bransford told us in an interview.
The microcasting company was originally selected for the 2012 Jumpstart Foundry cohort but dropped out before the program ended in August.
Even without the accelerator program Bransford’s background in media (real media like HBO) and development, including Drupal, helped bring TalkApolis to fruition.
Bransford has designed the TalkApolis platform to operate smooth and efficiently with the ability to produce relevant content extremely fast. ” Our production suite is so adept, we can test out a show from something we see trending on the internet and see if it sticks almost immediately. If it doesn’t get traction or the host get an audience, we move on to the next one. Licensees will benefit from this agility of the back-end system by being able to do the exact same things in their local markets. Our plan is to allow licensees to apply their unique local knowledge where it matters.” Bransford said.
Check out the rest of our interview with Bransford below.
What is TalkApolis?
A Nashville technology and entertainment startup that produces high quality, locally focused video shows shot expressly for smartphones.
Our basic value creation is in audience aggregation or collecting the attention of a group of people with similar characteristics, then selling access to that audience to a third party. Gathering a group of people in a certain demographic is quite valuable to businesses or groups that are interested in getting the attention of those people.
We focus on geographic or local areas with a form of programming we call Microcasting. The target platform is smartphones and is promoted by show hosts through Facebook and Twitter news streams.
The big idea is that everyone lives somewhere and local is the largest demographic of all. We’re basing our long-range business expansion on the TV networks’ affiliates licensing system of the 1950s.
Licensees are locally based entrepreneurs that need not be technical wizards to operate our studio platform and can focus on the content that is relevant to their local markets. Here in Nashville, of course we have the music industry but, as an example, a licensee in Louisville or Lexington, Kentucky could easily focus on basketball, bourbon, and horses and have successful shows. What matters most is the content. That’s what sells the shows. It also allows for nearly unlimited growth potential to future markets.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother).
You can watch locally focused, entertaining, high quality video shows on your smartphone or mobile device that were made to be watched on it. Download our app for your device and watch TalkApolis content with a touch of your screen.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
John Bransford. In 2000 I started New Generation Films, Inc to integrate the emerging MPEG 4 video compression with an application to deliver HQ files over standard broadband. The company’s technology won us an invitation to Cannes where we were part of the American Pavilion.
Earlier I worked as manager of special programming for HBO and the first head of development for Sony Wonder. I started American Video Group Inc. which became the first and remained the largest supplier of home video to the US military.
Since the tech bubble burst, I’ve headed a multimedia company with special focus on Drupal CMS as a development platform. My Drupal projects created a wide range of advanced modules for the platform with a particular focus on multimedia publishing. Some representative examples include Aggregator2 and Leech.
Currently I am exploiting opportunities to build on my experience with emerging media technologies that focus on platforms such as IOS, Android based tablets, Roku, and HTML 5 video apps. TalkApolis is my main focus now.
Where are you based?
Nashville, Tennessee. The Berry Hill neighborhood, to be exact.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Vibrant and growing. In the past decade, $1.4 billion has been invested in Nashville startups. In 2011, 37 Nashville companies received their first round of funding. $42 million was raised here just in the third quarter of 2012. While we are a major hub for healthcare companies and startups, since 2009 more than $140 million has been invested in other sectors, including technology and entertainment, which TalkApolis is a combination of. We have 21 accredited four-year universities so the workforce is educated and a culture of innovation thrives. We also have nearly 20 venture capital firms and multiple associations that support entrepreneurs and startups before funding. It’s great to be here and have so many resources available to us.
How did you come up with the idea for TalkApolis?
I saw this exact model working for another specific interest-based audience, TWiT.tv for Silicon Valley’s tech industry, whose real success came with what I mentioned I termed Microcasting. It’s high quality video shot expressly for smartphone users. People who self-identify based on their location are perhaps the largest definable interest-based audience of all. Everyone lives somewhere and has local interests. We’re taking the logical next step and creating shows for them on their mobile devices.
How did you come up with the name?
I wanted the name “TalkOpolis” but it was taken. So, I went with TalkApolis instead.
What problem does TalkApolis solve?
The tectonic shift in consumer attention to content delivered via smartphones and tablets has produced little by way of economical, measurable platforms for local advertisers. TalkApolis is cost-effectively capturing consumers’ attention where they’re focused and delivering high-value mobile content advertisers can capitalize on to increase their own sales and profits.
What’s your secret sauce?
Our technology and concept were built to be replicable, but I’d have to say it’s our focus on hyperlocal content. Our production suite is so adept, we can test out a show from something we see trending on the internet and see if it sticks almost immediately. If it doesn’t get traction or the host get an audience, we move on to the next one. Licensees will benefit from this agility of the back-end system by being able to do the exact same things in their local markets. Our plan is to allow licensees to apply their unique local knowledge where it matters.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
Bootstrapped but in talks with a few venture capital firms I can’t name yet.
What is your go to market strategy?
We’re actually already in the market. Using the strength of our show host’s social media presence, subject appeal, and marketing only via Facebook and Twitter, viewership has increased from 15,000 total views at launch, to 320,000 in November, passing 500,000 total views in four months. We’re off to a strong start in December, also, with several of our shows this first week already showing growth in viewership compared month-over-month.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Nick McIntyre, our head of production, created a video assembly line using formats that are seamlessly shot, compressed, and uploaded simultaneously with no time in between. It took us months to configure the hardware and software combinations to our specifics. We’ve taken what has cost other companies in new media millions of dollars and created a system that can easily be replicated for a fraction of the cost. That was our main hurdle – getting the platform completely ready.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Isaac Tigrett, who founded Hard Rock Café and House of Blues, among some of his more notable successes. Our company mentors include Chris McIntyre, a pioneer in podcasting who founded what is now Mevio.com, a comScore Top 20 entertainment company; John Wallace, who is Senior Director, Head of Production, and Executive Producer for AOL StudioNow; Ned Horton, a media and communications specialist who is head of The Horton Group; and Nick McIntyre, our Head of Production who is Chris’s brother.
What’s next for TalkApolis?
We have several new shows in the planning stages for 2013 in addition to our current shows. We’ve proven the concept works in Nashville, so expanding our presence is our next goal. We’ve already received interest from potential licensees in Birmingham and Atlanta. We’ll see what the new year brings.